Friday, July 29, 2011

V Class Kit

The V class Mikado 2-8-2 locomotive kit


The prototype:

The V class locomotive was the last mainline heavy freight locomotive built for the WAGR in 1954-6. They were the most powerful non-articulated locomotive on the WAGR system and were extremely efficient and popular with crews. They lasted until the end of steam in 1972 and were relatively young (16 years) for steam locomotives when they were written off. Twenty four locomotives were built and they first entered service in 1955. They were numbered 1201-1224. Upon their arrival an exhibition at the garden dock of the Perth railway station was held by the WAGR to publicise their newest steam locomotive The V class was displayed along-side a diminutive 1985 A class steam locomotive (#11). Detailed information on the locomotive can be found in Gunsburg, A. (1984) History of WAGR Steam Locomotives (ARHS, WA) Four of the V class are preserved. One (1213) is in private hands, others are preserved at Bellarine, Victoria and Collie in WA and one (1220) can be seen at the ARHS Railway museum in Bassendean, WA.

The magnificent V1220 preserved at Bassendean

The Model:

This modelling project was first mooted at the 2009 AMRA (WA) Model Railway Exhibition by Gary Gray who detected an interest in the V class from a number of modellers from the AMRA S scale special interest group. Gary then organised a committee of enthusiasts to make an S scale kit of the V class utilising a Bachmann Berkshire chassis as the basis for the running gear. Meetings were held in December 2009 and subsequent meetings were held in early 2010. Don Moir and Graham Watson supplied the drawings, Neil Blinco supplied the stack, John Hatch volunteered to make the sand box and the turret, Stuart Mackay, the tender and cab, and Gary Gray volunteered to make the boiler. Lynton Englund and Graham Watson provided valued advice and Neil made his scratch-built V class available as an aid to construction. Other urethane parts were made by Gary and Stuart so that by the end of May patterns and castings had been made and a basic kit was assembled for display at the 2010 AMRA Model Railway Exhibition. The kit also involves metal parts from North Yard of NZ, Railwest Models and Cullengatty castings. Graham Watson made moulds of the styrene patterns made by John, Gary and Stuart. Supplying the final package fell on Gary and Stuart who were determined to see the difficult project through. This is certainly not a perfect representation of the prototype as the Berkshire had slightly different valve gear. It does however provide the opportunity for enthusiastic modellers to own a smooth running S scale model of the V class without having to scratch-build one, which is the usual and only alternative.

Some of the mystery is lost in this partially assembled and unpainted view of the model.

This is not a kit for the inexperienced modeller. It is a kit is for a modeller with experience in assembling similar WAGR loco kits such as the Railwest Pm and S class locomotives, or the X-Class models U class kit. The kit requires a sound knowledge of the V class locomotive prototype, experience in kit assembly and ingenuity in building a realistic and presentable S scale model. There is considerable detailing which can be done and the degree to which this detailing is done will depend on the skill and preferences of the modeller. Readers should refer to Neil Blinco’s article on his super-detailed scratch-built model of V1213 elsewhere on this Blog if they really want to knock themselves out.

Author’s model of V1207, with Westland Models decals, resting on his home layout.

Modellers are expected to supply their own Bachmann Berkshire proprietary chassis. The Bachmann model requires dismantling and some modification (cutting and grinding) to the metal underside of the firebox, the front metal platform and the bogies. There is a quite a lot of work to do but the end result is well worth it and the modeller will be happy in the knowledge that he is one of the very few to own a working S scale model of the WAGR V class. And now, the bad news. All 23 kits have been allocated to members of the AMRA (WA) special interest group who expressed an interest in obtaining one. This group of modellers meets on the second Monday of every month at the AMRA clubrooms 24 Moojebing st Bayswater WA at 8pm. Visitors and new members are always welcome. A small second run is possible but Gary and Stuart have moved on to building other models and kits of West Australian prototypes.

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